Contemporary Art in North Carolina

Cancel those reservations for New York and LA, and spend time taking advantage of some of the best contemporary art experiences in America–right here in North Carolina, in the Triangle, and along I-40 to Winston-Salem.
Installing Kehinde Wiley’s Equestrian Portrait of the Count Duke Olivares, part of the 30 Americans exhibition in 2011

30 Americans, currently showing at the Museum until September 4, is jam-packed with some of the most provocative, engaging, and humorous expressions about the world we live in from 31 of America’s most respected artists, among them Kara Walker, Mark Bradford, Glenn Ligon, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, and Nick Cave. Kehinde Wiley’s monumental work is breathtaking. All of the artists are African American. While you are here, don’t miss Alter Ego, Anthony Goicolea’s first comprehensive retrospective of his work in all media, exploring adolescence, the mythology of landscape, and the mystery of family.

Many of the same artists in 30 Americans are also in the collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and are currently on view in Building the Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions until August 14.  The Ackland Museum at UNC—Chapel Hill has exceptional work by contemporary German artists including Gerhard Richter and Joseph Beuys in the exhibition De-Natured.

Downtown Raleigh is popping with the opening of the new Contemporary Art Museum. Not only is the building worth a visit to remind you of a New York gallery experience, but so are the very cool exhibitions by Dan Steinhilber (recycled materials ingeniously reinterpreted) and Naoko Ito (a meditative response to nature). Step over to Flanders Gallery to prove to yourself that Raleigh is not far removed from New York.

For a day’s outing, head up to Winston-Salem for a visit to SECCA, the Southeast Center for Contemporary Art (about 1 ½ hours’ drive from Raleigh). Wow. Not only are the galleries among the most striking contemporary art spaces in North Carolina, but the exhibitions organized by their brilliant curator, Steven Matijio, are truly of a world standard. Currently on view are: American Gothic: Aaron Spangler and Alison Elizabeth Taylor; Oscar Mu±oz: Imprints for a Fleeting Memorial; and Clark Wittington & Artists in Cellophane (AIC): The Art-o-Mat Enterprise. On the way home, visit the Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC—Greensboro, where excellent contemporary work is always on view, including the best new works on paper you will find anywhere.

Ready. Set. Go. You are bound to find a revitalizing new energy in these experiences. So, NCMA members, get going. And plan to start right here at the NCMA for an art jolt you don’t want to miss.

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